After the month's cycling in May/June I had worked through the summer and just about fitted in enough training for the autumn marathon season.  However, it was not my most concerted training approach due to the summer job involving long hours and limiting my running options.  This reflected in that I ran my longest training run only 9 days before the race - a period when any sensible runner is tapering.

This was the first marathon that I have run without any support in tow.  It certainly felt odd travelling alone and having no one to interact with about the route etc beforehand.  I didn't have a fellow runner with me either, having not heard from friend, Julie Donald, who was due to run but suffering an injury and hadn't responded confirming if she'd be there or not.  This all said, there is some interaction with other runners on the morning and supporters on route so it's not like I had been abandoned!
Robin Hood Marathon
After a lengthy walk along the banks of the River Trent from the car park I joined the half marathon and marathon runners in Victoria Park to line up and start.  The race was due to start at 9:30am but I was unclear if it did as we took so long to cross the line.  It was only when I finished that I realised I had taken a full ten minutes to officially start after the gun.  The first couple of miles were difficult to get going due to numbers and road width.  I was trapped between the 4hour pace setter and his followers for a while before managing to get to a more comfortable pace of my own.  The route is an interesting mix.  The first 4 miles are central and along the Trent before a section through an industrial estate and then you run through the grounds of Nottingham University - quite literally through the main courtyard. I was keeping at sub 8 minute miles to around mile 7.  As I went through mile 8 I recognised a figure running ahead of me - it was Julie!

We ran together for a short section - Julie was wanting no pressure on her time which is why she'd not confirmed her attendance to even me.  I headed on as we returned into the city centre and approached mile 11, where the half marathoners split off towards Victoria Park and the finish whilst we headed out to the east of the city and another less inspiring road!  We took in a park and then at mile 17 routed into another park around the White water centre and rowing lake.  I ran through to mile 21 - only having to have stopped for "comfort breaks", to tie my lace and empty a stone from my trainers.
But by 21 miles my rhythm had been interrupted by two stops in a mile (the lace and then stone) and when I carried on I could feel my hamstring/glut injury twinging.  It resulted in a slower pace with around 100/150 metre walks at each mile point through the rest of the race.  However, I was not despondent - I hadn't run past 20 miles for a long time on a race day without a walk involved and in hindsight realised it had become quite hot and the heat was no doubt adding to the issue.  (I wasn't designed to run in heat).  
Support around 24 miles helped give me an extra boost and I knew I would be under 4 hours shy of a major issue.  In fact I came in at 3:52:40 (official time from when I started) - my fastest marathon in 2 years. Considering how I had felt during training I was delighted with this.  I was also rather impressed with the medal  - a first at having a middle section that rotates.  Julie finished in 4:20 and I spotted her afterwards for a brief chat.  

Ready for off at the start
With Julie after we’d finished and another medal gained.
The River Treant, which we ran along side for much of the course

Coming through mile 8 in the grounds of Nottingham University


Left - at mile 21 along the rowing lake
Right - The final few metres to cross the line - and face says it all!

A lengthy walk back to the car (much slower than on the way for some reason) and cheered on runners I passed still heading to the finish. On the route I had been singing "Robin hood" in my head - due to the event's name and several runners being dressed as said character.  However, I also felt it was apt given that evening I was at panto rehearsals - and this year's show is "Babes in the Wood".  35 down, that 40th marathon is getting closer!